Hello! I’m Ana, a mother and homemaker from Alaska.
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Outdoor Storage Bench

May 27, 2010 |
posted by Ana White
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Well, I did it. I just crossed the last item off the list (I think!) of the Simple Outdoor Collection. This collection was very much inspired by West Elm’s Wood Slat Collection, and this particular storage bench was inspired by West Elm’s Wood Slat Storage Bench.
Thanks to Janae for the Photo.

Outdoor Storage Bench

Additional Photos

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About Project

Author Notes: 

What a great place to store pillows on a windy day! And I have a feeling this bench at my house would be full of sandbox toys, painted some bold color. I’m really loving this soothing blue.


Outdoor Storage Bench
Overall Dimensions are shown above.

Materials and Tools

Shopping List: 

15 – 1×4 Boards, 8′ Long
6 – 1×3 Boards, 8′ Long
2 – 1×2 Board, 8′ Long
2 Door Hinges for exterior use

1 1/4 inch screws
2 inch screws
1 1/4 inch pocket hole screws
wood glue
wood filler
120 grit sandpaper
paint brush
measuring tape
safety glasses
hearing protection
circular saw

Cut List

Cut List: 

4 – 1×4 @ 20″ (Legs)
22 – 1×4 @ 17″ (Side Slats)
4 – 1×3 @ 45 1/2″ (Frame Boards, Top and Bottom)
4 – 1×2 @ 11 1/4″ (Frame Boards, Ends)

12 – 1×4 @ 17″ (End Panel Slats)
4 – 1×3 @ 16 1/4″ (Frame for the ends)
4 – 1×3 @ 17 1/4″ (Frame for the tops and bottoms)

6 – 1×4 @ 47″ (Bottom)

13 – 1×4 @ 23 3/4″ (Top Slats)
3 – 1×2 @ 45 1/2″ (Top Frame Supports)

General Instructions

I decided to break this plan down into sections because I know that you are probably a busy mom just like me and only have one naptime a day. I’m certain that you could build a panel a day, and have a bench by the weekend! Same rules apply when you build this bench, make sure you are using straight boards, working on a level surface that is clean (even a tiny bit of sawdust can throw you off). Make sure you check every panel for square as you are building it. To save you some time, round up a piece of 1/4″ plywood and use it as a spacer when screwing your slats down. Be safe and have fun!

Step 1

Outdoor Storage Bench

Build two side panels as shown above. The easiest way to do this would be to start with one of the legs. Mark the leg 1 1/2″ in (you could just use a 1×2 since it’s 1 1/2″ wide) from the outside. Then attach the pink board to the top corner, as shown above. The space a green board 1/4″ from the leg and attach to the pink board. For now, I would just use 1 screw. Attach all of the green boards and the remaining leg to the top pink board. Then carefully adjust all of the boards unitl the outside corners of the legs are square with each other. Then add the blue boards to the legs, and then the remaining pink boards. Go back and add more screws to the top frame board. Use 1 1/4″ screws and glue. Build two side panels.

Step 2

Outdoor Storage Bench

The end panels are going to be super simple. Start by screwing a blue board to a green board to create your ends. Then lay your all of the green boards down, including the two with the blue boards screwed to the tops, and lay the pink boards on top. Screw the pink boards to the green boards using 1 1/4″ screws and glue. Make sure you are checking for square and there is a 3/4″ gap under the bottom pink boards. All other outside edges are flush. You will need to construct two end panels.

Step 3

Outdoor Storage Bench

When your panels are complete, attach the panels as shown above. Use 2″ screws and you can skip the glue if you plan to disassemble at some point.

Step 4

Outdoor Storage Bench

Attach the bottom boards as shown above using 2″ screws. Use glue if you want a stronger more permanent joint, no glue if you wish to disassemble at some point.

Step 5

Outdoor Storage Bench

Build the top panel as shown above, screwing through the 1x2s into the underside of the top slats using 1 1/4″ screws and glue. Then attach the top to the bench using hinges.

Step 6

You probably already finished the pieces (or at least each panel) so just add paintable silicone to any exposed screws or imperfections, lightly sand, and apply a touch up coat. You may also wish to spray on a clear coat for added protection from the elements.

Finishing Instructions

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I would suggest hinges

I would suggest hinges http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=410&Max=999 like these so you don't get bitty fingers (or big ones!) slammed in the door :)

posted by Crazy Easton Family (not verified) | on Thu, 2010-05-27 16:47

Please don't say that this is

Please don't say that this is all to the collection. Please make a canopy daybed, too!!! Like this one, but not wicker and in the style of the rest of your collection: http://www.potterybarn.com/products/palmetto-all-weather-wicker-daybed/.

posted by Natalie (not verified) | on Thu, 2010-05-27 17:30

Midwest cedar lumber

Midwest cedar lumber prices(cedar, for outdoor usage):
1x4 $6
1x3 $5
1x2 $4
Everyone always asks about the price so I thought this would help to give an idea. The wood is about $130. Not bad compred to the W.E. price of $330!

posted by Bethany (not verified) | on Thu, 2010-05-27 18:43

Wow. I can just hear my hubby

Wow. I can just hear my hubby already planning how to add all of this to his to do list! :) We LOVE your stuff. Please keep it coming!

By the way, you won an award! Drop by http://stresstheseams.blogspot.com/2010/05/10-things-i-need-to-share-bec... to check it out!

posted by StressTheSeams (not verified) | on Fri, 2010-05-28 04:43

I just made the storage

I just made the storage bench. I'll post picture on facebook after I finish painting it and add the hinges.

I just want to say that a few of the measurements on the cut list were wrong. Luckily, I like to go by the pictures (which were right) and measure as I go.

Also, it only cost me about $30-$40. I found a local recycling store. It's basically a cross between goodwill and lowes. It was an amazing discovery. They didn't have all the sizes, but what I got was cheap.

posted by Janae (not verified) | on Sun, 2010-05-30 00:12

Janae, thanks for stopping

Janae, thanks for stopping back by to comment on the cut list errors. All fixed! And super smart to cut as you go, following the diagrams, I am definitely human! Ana

posted by Ana White (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-31 15:12

Any thoughts on how to make

Any thoughts on how to make this bench water tight?

GREAT site (in my best Tony the Tiger voice...).

posted by Mr. B (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-06-09 10:01

I agree with Mr. B. Any ways

I agree with Mr. B. Any ways to make this water tight? We get A LOT of rain and it is always a downer to have to sit on a wet cushion.

posted by Mary (not verified) | on Sun, 2010-06-20 13:52

When I was pregnant with our

When I was pregnant with our first son, I got my husband to build something very similar to this for babyproofing the cat's litterbox. He built it with a solid plywood bottom, and he made a opening for a door in the back panel. We positioned it about 5-6 inches away from the wall and put the litterbox, extra litter, scooper, etc inside. The cat walks around to the back and enters to take care of business. Our oldest is now 7, and we are still using the box because it hides everything so well.

posted by JJennings (not verified) | on Sat, 2010-09-04 16:42

what a great idea to use this

what a great idea to use this for the litter boxes! I have been trying to come up with something to keep my dogs out of the 'all you can eat buffet' as my husband calls it.

posted by jphiggins2 | on Mon, 2011-05-02 23:40

This is just what I was

This is just what I was looking for to build for storing wood next to the fireplace.

posted by MrsM (not verified) | on Thu, 2010-09-09 08:29

My husband is building this

My husband is building this to replace our $160 toy box that fell apart after 1 year! :-/ Can't wait to send pictures of the finished project.

posted by Christy B (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-10-20 14:05

I'm also interested in how to

I'm also interested in how to make this watertight. I actually just posted a bench on the facebook site that I was hoping to make but looks like these plans are already done but the gaps between the boards would make it a problem... any ideas?

posted by Rae (not verified) | on Thu, 2010-10-28 07:10

[...] Full reference

[...] Full reference (Copyright acknowledge) This entry was posted in Wood Furniture Plans. Bookmark the permalink. ← Do It Yourself Woodwork – Woodworking Tips For Beginners [...]

posted by How to Build a Storage Bench Inspired by West Elm's Outdoor (not verified) | on Sat, 2010-11-13 02:32

To make it watertight - or

To make it watertight - or close to it:
When building the panels, don't make the frame flush with the top. Drop it down a half inch or so. Put weather stripping in that space.
For the sides, top and bottom, instead of using individual boards, just have the lumber yard cut you a piece of redwood plywood. It looks like paneling.
Just stain or paint!

posted by Marie (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-02-18 15:26


I think this would be great to make it look like the trunk coffee table that is so popular now. Maybe adding some kind of buckles, I don't know, but I can see it possibly being made to look like a trunk.

posted by jphiggins2 | on Mon, 2011-05-02 23:43

Water Tight Deck Box

While tooling around on the Kreg Jig forum, I found plans and videos for this similar box/bench : http://kregjig.ning.com/forum/topics/lowes-shop-class-deck-box

Looks fairly easy, and if you're worried about water, I think this would do the trick, though I'm still planning on making Ana's. I think tongue and groove is probably out of my price range.

posted by pmsandagun | on Wed, 2011-05-11 15:57

Bug Free Box

Someday when we move back home to San Diego, CA (currently active duty Coast Guard in Sitka, AK) I plan on building this box for our backyard patio with screen material attached to the inside to keep the bugs and spiders out. Just an idea for those of you with the same problem.

posted by asustachek | on Fri, 2011-05-20 12:16

I need this box!

I have a small dog that chews everything in the back yard into tiny little pieces, especially flip-flops! We need something like this to store all that stuff in! (Don't worry about the dog, he doesn't actually eat any of the stuff, he just likes to make a mess for us to clean up!)

posted by Teresa H. (not verified) | on Thu, 2012-11-22 16:06

I love what youve got to say.

I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?
kotel bar mitzvah

posted by roger1122 | on Tue, 2013-05-14 05:41

This is really great for

This is really great for storage at your backyard. This is a must have for mommy's to have at home so that they can truly organize their things in their backyard. - The Balancing Act Lifetime

posted by kazey | on Fri, 2013-05-24 20:19
Home Design's picture

Furniture Design

In designing patio furniture, don’t forget to think about the function of your patio design. Do you like it so serve as dining are on warm summer nights? Do you want to use it to host your birthday party or your outdoor dinner party? Or, do you want to use it as outdoor family room to serve a place to enjoy reading and gathering with your family? source this in Precioushomedesign.com

Home Design | Home Decor

posted by Home Design | on Sun, 2014-08-03 23:04

Any suggestions on the best

Any suggestions on the best hinges to use for outdoors? Any specifics appreciated!

posted by AndyG | on Mon, 2014-08-18 15:31

Where do you use the Kreg

Where do you use the Kreg Jig? I don't see it in the directions.

posted by AndyG | on Mon, 2014-08-18 15:32

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